Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Oliver Reed Film Festival, Pt. 1: the '60s

Ollie stars as a a young Spanish nobleman with a problem: he keeps turning into a wolf and disemboweling people. The film that led indirectly to Ollie getting his face slashed with a broken bottle in a bar fight in 1964. With Clifford Evans and Yvonne Romain.

Sub-Hitchcock hoo-hah with Reed as a creepy rich kid out to make sure he collects on his inheritance -- even if it means murder! My favorite (and most prophetic) line of dialogue: "I've been drinking. Now I'm going to drink some more."

THE DAMNED a/k/a THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1963): Not to be confused with Luchino Visconti's 1970 epic, this is a sort-of sequel to VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED with Reed playing "King," a nasty ruffian who inevitably meets a bad end. An interesting combo of horror, sci-fi, juvenile delinquent and nuclear holocaust-type flicks from director Joseph Losey. With MacDonald Carey, Viveca Lindfors and Shirley Ann Field as the object of Reed's incestuous jealousy.

Reed plays Stephen "Tinker" Taylor, a womanizing photographer in a seaside resort who gets his comeuppance when he falls for an upper-class fashion model named Nicola. Directed in living black and white by Michael Winner, from a screenplay by Peter Draper. Great theme song by the Searchers. With Jane Merrow, Harry Andrews, and David Hemmings.

Reed plays "Moise," the leader of a pack of layabout no-goodniks called, appropriately enough, "The Pack." A wealthy young American girl falls into their orbit, and tragedy ensues. Ollie is mesmerizing as the charismatic, nihilistic would-be beatnik whose idea of a miracle is a girl who won't go to bed with him. Director Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger) tried to have his name removed from the credits after the British censors made heavy cuts. With Eddie Albert.

THE DEBUSSY FILM (1965): In his first collabration with director Ken Russell, Reed plays two roles, one as a dead ringer for French composer Claude DeBussy, and the other as a brooding young actor not unlike Ollie himself, who is cast as DeBussy. Audacious work foreshadows the brilliance of The Devils (1971). Russell and Reed developed a shorthand for Ollie's acting range: "Moody One," Moody Two," and "Moody Three," ranging from quiet menace to bellowing rage.

THE TRAP (1966):
Surprisingly tender adventure tale about a French-Canadian fur trapper who buys a deaf mute (Rita Tushingham) to be his bride. Ollie's accent varies wildly, at times spot-on, other times sounding more like a brain-damaged Belgian.

THE JOKERS (1966):
Reed's second collaboration with director Michael Winner, from a script by Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais, fresh off the BBC series "The Likely Lads." Two brothers plot to steal the Crown Jewels, but just for kicks. Co-starring Michael Crawford as Reed's ne'er-do-well younger brother. Hasn't aged particularly well, but proved that Reed could do comedy.

Early Ken Russell effort made for British Television with Oliver as Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Creepy opening scene has him exhuming his wife's buried remains so that he can retrieve a book of his poems from her coffin for his publisher.

Director Michael Winner and writer Peter Draper conceived this as sort of a sequel to The System. Reed plays Andrew Quint, a successful director of TV commercials who rebels by quitting his job, breaking up with his mistresses, and taking a editorial position at a failing literary magazine. Mayhem ensues. With Harry Andrews, Carol White, and Orson Welles as Jonathan Lute, Quint's Machiavellian boss.

QUINT: I'm going to find an honest job.
LUTE: Silly boy. There aren't any.

OLIVER! (1968):
"More? MORE? Never before has a boy asked for more..." Reed sports epic mutton chops as the villainous Bill Sykes, and is great in the role, even if his death scene is eerily similar to the one he did in Curse of the Werewolf. Directed by his uncle, Sir Carol. With Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Mark Lester, and Jack Wild.

An English soldier in a German P.O.W. camp is used as forced labor at the local zoo, and befriends an elephant named Lucy. It's STALAG 17 meets DUMBO. One of Ollie's most likeable performances. Co-starring Michael J. Pollard.

Reed stars as Ivan Dragamilov, head of the titular organization. Diana Rigg, at her loveliest, plays a crusading journalist who hires said organization to kill Dragamilov. Romance and mayhem ensue. With Telly Savalas.

Ken Russell adapts DH Lawrence, Glenda Jackson emotes for the ages while Alan Bates and Ollie have a nude wrestling match. With Hammer vet Jennie Linden and the imperious Eleanor Bron (Help!).

Stay tuned for The Oliver Reed Film Festival, Part Two: The '70s and The Oliver Reed Film Festival, Part Three: The '80s 'Til Death

Originally posted at BLOG! by Jm Dobies

9 August 2007

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